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Current Trainees

Masters Students

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Lara Durksen

Lara has a BA in Environmental Governance from the University of Guelph with a minor in Sustainable Business, where she completed courses in geography, political science, food and agriculture resource economics, and business. This wide range allowed her to focus on creating bridges between the disciplines and become a well-rounded student. In her last semester she completed an independent study in geography, supervised by Dr. Diana Lewis, which explored how Indigenous Knowledge and health are incorporated into Canadian Environmental Impact Assessments. Lara is pursuing an MA of Geography at U of G in the fall and will be expanding the research of Indigenous health and resource economics with a focus on creating a more comprehensive view of environmental economic understandings and the impact of current practices on Indigenous peoples’ health. In her free time, Lara enjoys reading, biking, travelling, and bartending. 

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Antonina Struminski-Bodden

Antonina has an HBSc in Environmental Geoscience and a Major in Indigenous Studies. She has been a research assistant in the IndigenERA lab since January 2023, where she has been able to work collaboratively on a community based participatory research (CBPR) project surrounding community health, renewable energy, and energy sovereignty. Her previous CBPR projects have surrounded wetland construction and native plant species restoration, and she has experience working in the promotion of equity, inclusion, and decolonial praxes in academic spaces. Her other research endeavours have involved isotope geochemistry, relating to pore water in smectite clays, as well as examining the accuracy of global satellite precipitation measurements in Canada. Antonina is pursuing an MA at U of G under the supervision of Dr. Diana Lewis to examine water governance and water health in the IEHRA process. In her free time, she enjoys hot yoga, running, hiking, poetry, and reading!

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Olivia Thom

Olivia is Oneida on her maternal side and also comes from mixed settler descent. Her family comes from Oneida Nation of the Thames, in southwestern Ontario. She has a BA in Indigenous Studies with a minor in Women and Gender Studies. She is pursuing an MA at the University of Guelph in the Geography, Environment, and Geomatics program, under the supervision of Dr. Diana Lewis. For her master’s thesis she is working with her home community to develop an environmental wellness survey that is going to be able to adequately account for Indigenous environmental health and risk assessment in relation to environmental contamination and other health and wellness impacts in the community. Olivia has worked for Dr. Lewis since 2020 on numerous projects including; developing a community report for Pictou Landing First Nation using Stata, designing and creating an online resource and website for the Impact Assessment Agency of Canada to learn how to work with Indigenous communities in Canada when dealing with resource development, extraction, land dispossession, and contamination. Olivia is very passionate about Indigenous environmental health equity and feels lucky to be able to pursue a career path that aligns with her cultural, passion, and personal journey. She enjoys hot yoga, reading, bingo, travelling and visiting with family.

Postdoctoral Scholars

Elana Nightingale

Elana Nightingale is a Postdoctoral Scholar in the IndigenERA lab where she works on Indigenous economic impact assessment. She holds a PhD in Geography from Western University, a MSc in Local Economic Development from the London School of Economics, and a BA in Economics from Carleton University. Elana aims to support community-led research as a means to advance health and social equity for First Nations, Inuit and Métis communities in Canada. Her research interests include the social determinants of Indigenous health, community economic development, community-based research methodologies and knowledge translation.


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Rachael Contini

Rachael Contini is a fifth-year student at the University of Guelph, obtaining a Bachelor of Science in Environmental Science, and majoring in Environmental Resource Management. She has been part of the IndigenERA team since Spring 2023 as a volunteer research assistant. Throughout her undergrad, she has developed a strong interest and passion in Indigenous Geographies and was especially influenced by one of Dr. Diana Lewis’s classes, which focused heavily on her work with Indigenous communities in Northern Alberta and the disproportional impacts of the Tar Sands. Rachael is passionate about the environment and thoroughly enjoys hiking, camping, and anything that has to do with water and cards! She is looking forward to all that she is set out to learn with the team! 

Emma South

Emma is a dedicated Volunteer Research Student at the IndigenERA Lab and is working towards obtaining her Bachelor of Bio-Resource Management with a major in Environmental Management from the University of Guelph in the spring. Emma is passionate about the intersections of environmental health, Indigenous knowledge, and sustainable development. Emma’s aspirations include contributing to the well-being and self-determination of Indigenous communities and rural areas, ensuring their voices are heard and respected in environmental and development decisions. She is excited about the opportunity to make a tangible difference through her academic and research journey. In her free time, Emma enjoys going to the gym, camping, hiking, and spending time with friends and family.

Research Assistants

Maja Wetzl

Maja (she/her) is Ojibwe, with family roots in Serpent River First Nation, and also is German and Austrian. Maja has a HBSc in Mathematical Science in the statistics stream with an emphasis in bioinformatics, from the University of Guelph. Through this degree, she has been able to gain knowledge from a variety of disciplines, gaining skills such as coding, statistical analysis, and research. Maja began her position as a research assistant at the IndigenERA Lab in November 2023. She is doing statistical analysis involving Indigenous environmental health risk assessment. In previous research assistant positions, Maja has done work in bioinformatics to further biodiversity research, as well as work in forest modelling, contributing to Ontario carbon cycle research. Maja is passionate about the environment and Indigenous equity, and is eager to combine these two passions through her work in the IndigenERA Lab. In her free time, Maja enjoys reading, beading, painting, and hiking.